Monthly Archives: February 2012

What Ellen Saw: Two Cows and One Bull

My husband Dean proofreads my writing.  He notices things—missing details, inaccuracies, and facts I need to research.  I truly value and appreciate his help.  I’m currently writing Daughter of the Bride, a novel set in the 1890s.  It’s about a young girl named Ellen whose mother (Lenore) answers an advertisement and marries a younger man, a farmer (Cal), after the death of her husband and Ellen’s father (Frank).

On chapter ten Cal is getting ready to herd twenty head of cattle to his farm.  Before he leaves, he buys another bull.  Now he has two.

“Why does he need another bull?” Dean asked.

“Because he’s bringing home twenty cows.”

“One bull is enough.”

“Are you sure?”  I know nothing about a bull’s virility.

He laughed.  “I think one bull can easily service twenty cows.  How many cows does he already have?”

“He has two milk cows.”

“Why does he have two milk cows and a bull?”

Without thinking, I said, “Well, when Ellen first arrived on the farm she saw two milking cows and one calf in the barn and a bull in the pasture.”

“Oh she did, did she?”  He laughed again.  “Well, maybe Ellen needs to ask Cal why in the hell does he have two milk cows and a bull.  Maybe he has a good answer.  If not, he’s a dumb ass.”  Dean gets really tickled with himself after this statement.  It takes him a moment to stop laughing.  “He didn’t need the first bull to begin with.  He could have bought the other cows already pregnant.  If you keep the first bull, you don’t need the second one.”

I thought, why not!  I liked the scene I wrote in chapter ten.  “I could have her see more than those cows in the barn in chapter two.  Maybe the rest are in the pasture.”

“What’s the ratio between the number of cows per bull?”  He went to the computer and googled it.  “About twenty-five cows to one bull.  Then Cal really doesn’t need another bull.”

“Ellen sees the first bull in chapter two.  Maybe I can change it to where the bull is old.”

“Then you can have Cal say something like, ‘he’s old and falling down on his job’.”  He thought that was pretty funny, too.  “But it still doesn’t take care of the fact that Cal has so few cows and a bull.  He didn’t need the first bull.

“No one cares about the damned cows anyway!  Just because Ellen saw only two doesn’t mean there aren’t anymore.”  I feel frustrated at this point.

“You kill me.”  My husband cracked up.  He loves to make fun of me.   “Ellen saw those cows?”

“The story is from her point of view.  I only have to write what she sees and she only saw those two cows, one being milked.”

“You’re so cute.”  Dean grinned and then mimicked me, “‘Ellen only saw two cows’.” He laughed at me again.  “And Ellen saw the bull, so by God it’s staying there.”

I laughed with him.  That bull and those damned cows had gotten to be pretty funny.

I think I’ll add some more cows in chapter two (and make sure Ellen sees them), so Cal can keep the old and the new bull.  I don’t want him to be a dumb ass.



Filed under Random Thoughts

Born Smiling

“If you smile at me I will understand, cause that is something everybody everywhere does in the same language” – Crosby, Stills, and Nash; Jefferson Airplane, Wooden Ships


Born smiling.  That’s what my mother says.  I was born smiling.    One of my uncles even nicknamed me “Smiley.”

Shortly after I was born, my mother and father stood at the nursery window, gazing lovingly at me.   My mother said, “She’s prettier than the others.”

“Excuse me!” Another mother exclaimed.  “I think my baby is beautiful.”

My mother laughed.  “I meant she’s prettier than my other children when they were newborn.”

After my mother had dressed me in my cute pink going home dress, the nurses paraded me up and down the maternity ward, because, according to my mother, I was a “beautiful baby.”   And I smiled.

I told my friend Susan Brown that story and she wrote this poem for my birthday:

Born Smiling!

Paltry task, believing—

A serving nature

On a darkened planet.

A soft star, glowing

Shyly, truly a Sun.

Beauty, serving,

Under a veil.

Awakening wonders!

Me?  All this time?

Personality croaking,

Shattering the looking glass.

Full Sun unfolding!



First Birth.

Not sure about the “croaking” part, other than it having to do with a vibrating sound, but I appreciate and cherish the poem.  Perhaps I was remembering a past life, my first on this planet.  It must have been a good one!

I still smile quite a bit.  I smile when I’m happy and when I’m nervous.  I try to smile even when I feel like crying.   A smile can stop a tear right in its track.   If you force yourself to smile, or laugh even, you can change a sour mood into a sweet one within seconds.  I used to sit at the dinner table when I was a child and say, “I feel like laughing.”  Then I would force myself to laugh.  Within moments, I was guffawing for real and had my entire family clutching their sides and laughing with me.

I smile at strangers if I should catch their eyes, even though I’ve been warned not to when in a big city or foreign country.  I do it anyway.  They don’t always smile back, but that’s okay.  That’s their prerogative, only they don’t know what they’re missing.  Smiling is good for you.  People should pass it along, pay it forward.

I’m not necessarily happier than most people, but I do enjoy life.  I’m determined to enjoy my life; everyone should be.  Wherever I go, I plan on having a good time.  Smiling takes the edge off of life.   So try smiling more often.  Try to make it a habit.  It’s good for your soul.   And it’s better than frowning.  I entered the world that way and I plan to exit with the same expression.


Filed under Random Thoughts